23 August 2011

Leaving a Piece of my Heart Behind

In previous posts, I told the story of our first and second pregnancies, and the birth of Abigail at 33 weeks gestation. To continue...

On her second day of life, Abigail was moved out of the high-risk area to the low-risk area of the NICU. We were already feeling better about her status there.

Over the next couple of days, I spent as much time in the NICU with my baby as possible. On the 3rd day, Abigail had elevated bilirubin and had to be put in a jaundice bed the day we left as well. So she was laying under a bright blue light with foam goggles on, and I wasn't able to hold her as much that day. Later that day, I had to check out of the hospital. My doctor had already given me an extra day by justifying it to my insurance company with my blood pressure and the magnesium drip. But I had reached my max. The hospital was very lenient with me by letting me stay until around 8PM.

I know many women who have had to leave the hospital without their baby(ies), and for those of you who have been lucky enough to have never gone through this, it is a surprising and indescribable feeling. Throughout the pregnancy, every time I walked into that hospital, I would see one or more women being transported to their car with a car seat on the transport cart and the baby in their arms. That is what I had envisioned for myself. But that was not my reality. I had to say goodbye to my baby, and get transported down to my car without a baby in my arms.

I was so afraid of that moment, and I had known it was coming for a few days. As we were loading my stuff on the cart, and my husband was driving the car from the parking garage to the pick-up area, I felt that feeling of forgetting something. And I was embarrassed to be wheeled down with my pink baby celebration stuff and no baby. I felt like a piece of me was being about to be torn away. She was inside of me for 8 months, and now I had to sleep across town from her.

We left the room, and I started to cry. The lady who wheeled me down to the car told me the story of her daughter's stay in the NICU. She showed me a picture of her school-age, healthy daughter, and God used her to keep me from bawling the whole way to the car. I did cry most of the way home though.  It was so hard leaving Abigail behind. I knew she would be ok, but it was still difficult.

Leaving your baby at the hospital is like leaving a piece of yourself at the hospital. It is unbelievably difficult. It's like cutting out your heart and leaving it behind. I cry still when I think about it.

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